Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is a NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

Yachting: Artemis boat still not in the water

It seems to be the unspoken mystery hovering over the America's Cup: where is Artemis Racing's boat?

The Swedish team are still talked up as a presence in the Cup - organisers have little choice but to do so, with only two other challengers entered - but the fact they don't have a boat on the water is still being glossed over just days before the start of the Louis Vuitton challenger series.

The details of their boat launch have been lost in the information void that has become their Alameda base since the death of crewman Andrew Simpson in a training accident on the bay.

In the two months since the accident there has been little in the way of public comment from the camp. With the exception of an interview on America's Cup TV, the only communication from the team has been in the form of brief statements.

Yesterday's opening ceremony was the team's first public appearance since the May 9 accident, and skipper Iain Percy took the opportunity to thank the crowd for their support.

He also said the team are working around the clock to get back out on the water.

"The team is strong," Percy said. "It's really important for us to get back out there on the water."

That is about as much as we know about Artemis' plans for competing.

When the Swedish team confirmed last month they are committed to taking part in the challenger series, chief executive Paul Cayard said they aimed to be out on the water in boat two in early July, and hoped to be ready for racing by August.

Yet the round robin series in the Louis Vuitton Cup is due to start on Monday and still Artemis appear no closer to launching their boat.

Ask anyone in the team when they expect to launch and their official response is "soon".

However the unofficial word doing the rounds yesterday was their new boat may not be ready until July 26, leaving just 1 weeks before they need to take the startline for the semifinals.

After experiencing the consequences of what can happen when things go wrong in the high-powered AC72 catamarans, perhaps what Artemis are still weighing up is whether they are willing to send an under-prepared team and unprepared boat out on to the race course.

- NZ Herald

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